Taroko National Park administrators on Wednesday advised the public to avoid climbing Tengu Rock (天狗岩) after receiving reports that the ledge has become unstable.
Traffic at the formation on Haishushan (海鼠山) skyrocketed after its rediscovery in 2015 by hikers who recognized the outcropping from postcards issued by the Port of Hualien during the Japanese colonial era.
Academics and hikers had long been intrigued by the unique rock formation that was featured on a series of postcards issued between 1912 and 1926, and frequently appeared in official and literary records of the time.
Photo courtesy of Taroko National Park Headquarters
However, as no one had found the location of the outcropping, it was believed to have been destroyed in a natural disaster.
At the time, a hiker surnamed Cheng (鄭) told reporters: “Neither a typhoon nor an earthquake has destroyed it, but I am afraid that as soon as this news breaks, Tengu Rock will not be able to withstand so many hikers.”
Hualien historian Yeh Po-chiang (葉柏強) on Tuesday posted a message on Facebook to alert the public about the rock’s condition, with the post receiving more than 500 shares in one day.
“A hiker recently discovered that after they walked out onto the rock to take a photograph, it started shaking. If access is not restricted, Tengu Rock will soon collapse, and it will have been destroyed by our hands,” Yeh wrote.
Some hikers doubted the veracity of Yeh’s statement, saying that when they visited a few months ago, the rock was stable.
However, another hiker, surnamed Yeh (葉), confirmed that when they visited four days prior, they saw the rock shake when a hiker weighing about 80kg climbed onto it.
The formation is relatively remote and difficult for the average hiker to access, park administrators said, pledging to send experts to investigate as soon as the weather permits.
As they have not yet gathered any information on the condition of the rock, park officials have called on the public to refrain from climbing it and to be mindful of safety when visiting the area.
Haishushan was an important military outpost for training horses during the Japanese colonial era.
There are many hiking paths leading up onto the mountain from Lushui (綠水) and Heliu (合流) to Lianhua Pond (蓮花池).
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